iSeeNcode is an observation app that is used for encoding things you see, hence its name, iSeeNcode. It originated from a federally funded grant awarded to the University of Delaware by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in 2012-2015, called "Investigating the Impact of Classroom Instruction and Literacy Skills on Writing Achievement in First Grade." The first version of iSeeNcode enabled classroom observers to use iPads to encode student and instructor behavior in classroom contexts. In response to requests from researchers who wanted to use the app in other contexts, the project created a generalizable version of the app that enables researchers to create their own encoding schemas for use on iPhones as well as iPads. On startup, iSeeNcode runs the IES Literacy Grant schema. By enabling the app's editing functions, however, users can modify the schema to create their own encoding trees. iSeeNcode can export and import schemas, thereby enabling teams of researchers to load their schema onto multiple iPads or iPhones for use in making observations. Thus, iSeeNcode has evolved into an app that can record observations in any situation where you can define categories for what you are observing. The observations reside in spreadsheets that can be viewed onscreen or exported for data analysis.

Federal Funding Disclaimer

Funds for this project were provided by a federal grant (R305A110484) from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to the University of Delaware (UD). In order to clear this app for publication in the Apple App Store, UD released the app to its author, Dr. Fred T. Hofstetter, to publish in his role as an Apple Developer. All opinions expressed are the author's and do not represent those of IES, the U.S. Department of Education, or the University of Delaware.


The development of iSeeNcode began in the Fall of 2012 for the purpose of collecting observational research data for the IES Literacy Grant project. Observers took their iPads into the classrooms where they used the app to record their observations of student and teacher behavior. Hard coded into the app was a schema that Principal Investigator (PI) David Coker created along with co-PIs Liz Farley-Ripple and Skip MacArthur. Driven by this schema, the app offered onscreen controls for the observers to make their observations. Most of the observations were based on codes, but the app also let the observers make open-ended comments about what they were seeing. The app also had a counter that the observers could use to count interruptions. Color coding was used to keep track of common threads through the observations, which were made in five-minute intervals with a timer showing the observers how much time remained for each observation. The results were kept in a spreadsheet that the app would export by emailing the results to the researchers.

Researchers at other universities expressed interest in the app, and in order to generalize it for use in other settings, the project created a generalizable version for use with other schema. This revision added to iSeeNcode an editor that can create new schema for use in different kinds of research projects. Everything that was hard coded into the original instance of the app is now generalizable. Researchers can create their own coding tree and reprogram the timer, the counters, and the threading. Each branch of the coding tree can use single or multiple selection. The app can export the schema as an XML file that can be loaded onto other iPads or iPhones.